- By Elaine Brelsford
- Events, News
“All creatures of our God and king, lift up your voice and let us sing, O praise Him, Alleluia,” rang out from a crowd assembled for the dedication of the new riding ring at Boys Home on June 13. Visitors, staff, and students sat on new bleachers constructed by a mission group from Trinity Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. Students leading and riding horses stood inside the riding ring, while Chaplain Anne Grizzle, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, led a service of thanks and blessing.
Executive Director Donnie Wheatley thanked the many contributors who have donated funds for the ring, and Bonnie Wheatley spoke of Sturdy Stirrups, the equine program that has worked with over 20 students this spring. Diego Jones and Audrey Mosby alternately read Psalm 32 from horseback. Audrey, who is an accomplished rider, is the daughter of the new Development Director Justin Mosby. Pastor Anne reflected on the role of the ring as a place of relationship building, leadership, learning, and joy. When Pastor Anne asked the students what they learned this past semester, many examples included, “to stay calm, respect all living things, and trust your horse.” Linda Angle, house parent and assistant riding instructor, led everyone in the Cowboy Prayer of “God bless our horse and keep us safe. I ask this in the name of He who was born in a stable. Amen.”
Bundles of grasses with wildflowers were distributed to individuals wishing to bless the ring. Dipping the bundles in buckets of blessed water, they sprinkled them throughout the ring.
The service was concluded with a rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” including verses relating to horses and riders.
A celebratory dinner followed and included a memorized rendition of a horse poem called “Sissy Britches,” given by guest Susan Richardson.
The riding ring was installed to ensure the safety of all who participate in the equine program, allowing the program to expand to any student who is interested. While some of the fund’s needs have been donated, additional contributions are needed to fully fund the project. Boys Home has created a thermometer in the dining hall as a fun way to track our goal in raising money for the riding ring. Consider joining in the learning and fun by donating!